Monday, 13 April 2015

Taking the blood option

Blood samples

In this post we will look at the recent changes to the law that affects people facing an investigation into drink driving.

Currently when you are stopped and the police suspect you of drink driving they will usually require you to provide a roadside sample of breath to determine whether you may be over the drink driving limit.  If you provide the sample and it turns out that you are over the drink driving limit then you will be arrested and taken to the police station where you are required to provide two specimens of breath into an evidential breath test machine, in London and Oxfordshire the most common machine is the Intoximeter.

Let’s assume that the lower reading in breath is below 50 microgrammes per 100ml of breath (I say the lower reading because that’s the only one the police are allowed to rely on) but above the drink driving limit.  Previously, the police would have been required to offer you the option of taking a further test, which is widely considered to be more accurate than the breath test.  You have the choice of saying yes or no but once you say yes it is the police who decide whether that further test should be blood or urine.  Mostly, the police will choose blood because… well who wants to watch you take a wee then keep a fridge full of pee in their custody suite?

The blood option has been the norm for decades for the very simple reason that blood tests are more accurate then breath tests.  Despite this, the Government changed the law on the 10th April 2015 to abolish the option for drink driving suspects to choose to provide a blood or urine sample.

This law change means that if you provide a specimen of breath that is above the drink driving limit but below 50 microgrammes you will be automatically charged with drink driving and sent to court even though there is a risk that the breath test is not correct.

It would be nice to believe that the law had been changed because the breath testing equipment used in drink driving investigations had become more reliable; however, the machines have not changed since the Intoximeter EC/IR II machine was released in 2004.  If anything, our experience shows that the machines are becoming less reliable as we see an increasing number of people failing to provide specimens due to faulty infrared sensors in the machines across London and Oxfordshire.

If you have been affected by the recent change to the law and want to instruct an expert drink driving solicitor then do not hesitate to contact us on 020 8242 4440 or visit our website.


  1. I had this happen to me - I only blew 41 and am sure I would have been under the limit if the police let me give blood instead.

    1. What was your outcome, as i had blew 41 and ask for a blood test but they said theres no point.

  2. It's great post! Thanks for sharing!